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Why is my skin so bumpy and irritated??

Those pesky bumps on the backs of your arms and the fronts of your thighs have a very fancy name: keratosis pilaris.

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis indicates an excess production of keratin, one of the proteins in our skin and hair. Any medical word with “pilo” in it is related to hair. So, keratosis pilaris is a buildup of keratin and dead skin cells within the hair follicles, causing them to bulge, giving them a bumpy texture, and often causing them to get irritated and inflamed. KP usually occurs on the backs of the arms, the fronts of the thighs, and sometimes on the buttocks.

One theory is that these are the places where your clothing tends to rub back and forth on your skin the most, which stimulates dysfunctional keratin production in the hair follicles, and subsequently irritates the bumps. Anyone can get KP, but children and adolescents have a higher incidence than adults. KP is more common in women than men and often occurs in people with a history of asthma or eczema.

Bumpy Body Skin

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Many physicians will prescribe chemical exfoliants like lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and retinoic acid to treat keratosis pilaris. Some will even prescribe steroids. But this doctor (me, I mean) recommends some less invasive steps first—these simple changes may improve your KP without a prescription.

critical beginning steps

Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate
Get rid of ALL sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate in your hair care, your skin care, and your laundry detergent. Look for it in anything that foams—even your toothpaste!

Synthetic fragrance
With hundreds of undisclosed ingredients, many of which are irritants and allergens, you’d be wise to eliminate “fragrance” and “parfum” from everything you use on your skin, your hair, and in your home.

Super-hot showers or baths
They contribute to dry skin, which makes KP more likely.

Exfoliating methods once or twice a week. You can do this with a washcloth in the shower, or use an exfoliating product made with salt or sugar. Remember that you should always use the gentlest pressure when exfoliating skin—it doesn’t take much to achieve the desired effect, and over-exfoliating can create more inflammation.

An organic, handcrafted bar soap
These bars contain glycerin, which helps draw moisture to your skin throughout the day. They’re not like the average, grocery store bar soaps, which can dry out the skin. You can try a soap with texture from natural ingredients like clays, ground coffee, or sandalwood powder...

A Natural Body Oil
Apply a natural body oil on sopping wet skin just out of the shower every day. You provide the water by not drying off, and the body oil seals in that moisture as you rub it in with your hands. It contains fewer ingredients, which is always a plus when dealing with irritated skin.

Get a humidifier in your bedroom if you live in a dry climate.

super important next steps

If you’ve tried all of these things and still have symptoms, it may be time to talk to your dermatologist about prescription options, or even laser therapy, which is starting to show some promise in treating keratosis pilaris. But with consistent attention to the factors listed above and to an overall healthy lifestyle, most people find that their symptoms improve significantly, and their bumpy skin is a thing of the past. Be sure to double check even your natural brands for sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate and synthetic fragrance in order to maximize your chances of success.

It may also help to consider the clothing you’re wearing, which can sometimes aggravate the condition. Soft, breathable fabrics are less irritating than constrictive clothing and scratchy fabrics like coarse wool or linen.

Now For The Fun Part...

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